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ManCity & Arsenal Played a Key Match in the Championship Race. Liverpool Won

Guardiola played cautiously for an hour, but then his team ran out of time. City versus Arsenal was the main match of last weekend in Europe. Since May 2016, the hosts have not dropped points at home against this opponent — not once under Guardiola. However, City looks less invincible this year than in previous seasons. Thus, the winning streak was interrupted.

The first half was quite difficult to watch (especially after Liverpool). City switched to possession mode to control the game. This is precisely what was lacking in the last round at Anfield. However, possession was sterile. Arsenal compactly sat back in their third. Saka and Jesus, who played on the attacking flanks, stayed a few meters away from the defensive line without the ball.

Haaland always requires a few touches, but the ball reached him even less frequently this time. City managed to regain possession through pressing, but it wasn't converted into goal-scoring opportunities. Arsenal also looked modest by their standards. In the first half, Raya was wasting time when putting the ball back into play. The guests' chances mainly came through Jesus, but he hesitated to shoot until he bypassed two or three opponents.

City continued to have problems with defenders. Before this round, both Walker and Stones were out, and Ake got injured in the first half. He left the field limping, and Rico Lewis came on for him. In the second half, one could expect a bolder game from City. Still, after the break, the first dangerous moment remained with Arsenal. Saka shot low from the right flank, and Jesus missed connecting it to the far post by a hair.

Guardiola tried to eliminate any risk for an hour. Still, in the 61st minute, he brought on both Doku and Grealish — on the right and left flanks, respectively. This substitution radically changed the flow of the game. City relentlessly attacked the guests' goal. The ball constantly circulated in and around the penalty area. It was chaotic at times, but City began to create chances regularly.

Symbolically, Raya eventually received his yellow card for time-wasting. It's also telling that in the second half, Arsenal only managed their first shot on target in the 82nd minute. Simply a shot, without any specifics on whether it was on target. It turned out that the teams started playing football too late (primarily referring to City). Although Haaland could have decided everything in the 84th minute, the ball passed under his foot when he was two meters from the goalpost.

City's average possession this season is 65%. Usually, against weaker opponents, it's higher, and against stronger ones, it's lower. In the game against the Premier League leader, it was 72.2%, which reflects not so much the strength or weakness of Arsenal but rather the precision of Guardiola's initial game plan. In the crucial match for the title race, Liverpool emerged victorious, who pulled two points ahead of Arsenal and three ahead of City. Klopp's team also won their match against Brighton (2-1) on the same day.

Published by Patrick Jane